Tic Long has been an influential leader in youth ministry for 30+ years. He’s currently the President of Youth Specialties (YS). He’s fun, creative, relationally-gifted, loving, pastoral and a natural leader. Tic has a knack for discovering young leaders. Through his leadership at YS, Tic has given many unknown leaders a platform to express their gifts and expose their message (he and Mike Yaconelli did that with me 25 years ago). He is an amazing dad and husband and someone I’ve looked up to and learned from for many years. I asked Tic my 4.5 leadership questions…here’s his response:

What is your definition of leadership?
The bigger question to me is what is Christian leadership. It’s a funny thing because there is nothing inherently Christian about leadership, but at the same time it is listed as a spiritual gift and there a times in the Old Testament where God anoints leaders. To me, the thing that makes a Christian leader, is where you are leading people and how you are leading. What is the goal of your leadership and whose kingdom are you building? And for Christian leaders there is no such thing as a “results-only? environment. How we get there matters. Process matters. We cannot mistreat people to attain some goal. All that being said I have a ridiculously long definition for a Christian leader that I use in my leadership seminar:
Someone who creates a following by loving, inspiring, developing & empowering people in such a way that they are moved to action beyond what they had envisioned for the expansion of the kingdom of God in their lives and in the world.
I never have to worry about anyone ripping off this definition because it’s not concise and just too freaking long, but it contains all the important elements for me.

What’s an important tip you have to share about leading others?
Two things: Be yourself, and develop your one authentic style of leadership. Lead with your life. You embody the culture you are trying to create and your life speaks louder than your words.

What’s your biggest failure/weakness as a leader?
Again two things jump to mind. #1 Ego. Forgetting it is about God and not me. #2 Doing too much. I have a real blue collar background and work ethic and too often I jump in way more than needed. That not only stops me from coaching and visioning others, it robs them of the opportunity to contribute AND it burns me out.

What do you do to keep growing as a leader?
Watch. Ask Question, Read….Keep learning….Keep a sense of curiosity about people. I try not to assume that I know motivations, so I ask people and learn.

What is your favorite ____________
Activity….. Backpacking… Being the majesty of Gods creation, in the vastness of the wilderness right-sizes me.


Tic, on behalf of the youth ministry community, thanks for being faithful for so long and helping so many youth workers do what they do best. You may not have been the most well-know leader at YS, but you’ve been the best. You’ve created a legacy within YS that deeply cares for others. Thanks…df